Lulav trade hit by Israel-Egypt spat

By Anna Sheinman, September 19, 2011

Egypt has announced it will not export lulavs this year, due to worsening relations between Egypt and Israel.

The lulav, a palm frond, is one of the four species used in prayers on the festival of Succot.

Egypt has in previous years exported around 700,000 palm fronds to Israel, amounting to some 40 percent of annual demand. Another 700,000 are normally sent to Jews in the Diaspora.

But with relations between the two neighbouring countries cool, the annual trade is in danger.

Instead of importing from the Sinai Peninsula this year Israel will have to be self-sufficient in palm tree fronds, although there is the possibility of importing them from Spain, Jordan and Gaza.

Although Egypt did not allow lulavs to be exported for last year's festival, on the grounds of environmental protection, this was decided many months before the holiday, giving producers time to adjust.

But this year there is concern that because the decision has come just four weeks before Succot it may cause price rises and add to the economic woes of the country.

Palm tree growers in Israel told the Israeli Agriculture Ministry that they would not take advantage of the situation. They said that any price rise would be due to the higher cost of labour in the country.

A lulav currently costs between £10 and £50 in the UK.

Last updated: 3:48pm, September 19 2011